The lab of Martin Schaefer focuses on how mutations or modifications of the DNA transform a healthy cell into a cancer cell. This transformation is an evolutionary process in which cells undergo changes that promote competition and survival of the fittest. Critical to this evolution is the role of the tumor environment as it modulates mutational processes and the fitness effect of each DNA alteration. Conversely, the tumor also reshapes its environment to create conditions favourable for tumor progression. In our lab we study these bidirectional tumor-microenvironment interactions with the aim of generating a systems level understanding of tumor evolution in a complex cellular ecosystem.
To achieve this goal we integrate tools from various fields, including population genetics, systems biology, machine learning and network science. Our computational cancer biology lab is located at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy.